Editorial: Coalition has the right ideas on energy
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 16, 2001
In the race to find a solution to the state’s impending energy crisis, the right approach is the one that emphasizes conservation, renewable energy and minimal expansion of large power plants.
Friday, March 16, 2001
In the race to find a solution to the state’s impending energy crisis, the right approach is the one that emphasizes conservation, renewable energy and minimal expansion of large power plants. For the environment and for ratepayers, it’s the wisest course of action among the three major energy bills at the Capitol this year.
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The bill is the pet project of the POWER campaign, a coalition of environmental, labor and low-income advocacy groups. Their goal: To eliminate the state’s expected 2,000 to 3,000 megawatt electricity shortage in coming years.
Building power plants that run on coal or nuclear power is a double-edged sword, and both edges are dangerous. For one, they take years to plan, approve and build. We may not have that kind of time. And worse, they damage the environment – coal pollutes the air and contributes to global warming, and nuclear creates a hazardous byproduct that will be around for millennia.
The group doesn’t think renewable energy can solve all our short-term problems – but a combination of wind and biomass power can be part of the solution, and both could be built faster than coal or nuclear plants. They are also cleaner.
But the biggest plank of the POWER platform is conservation. By slightly increasing subsidies on power bills, their legislation would fund programs to increase use of energy-efficient devices in homes and businesses. This is the ultimate answer to easing the power shortage – use less of it. And the hardly noticeable increase in utility bills will be paid back eventually with less energy use once efficiency becomes more commonplace.
The legislation is a better fit for Minnesota than a chamber-of-commerce backed bill that hinges on electric deregulation, a risky venture made all the more unpopular by its failure in California, where power outages have become the norm.
Minnesota needs a balanced and forward-thinking energy policy that protects the environment and consumers. The POWER plan is our best option.